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A new group, Fast Food Justice, is fighting for livable wages and employee rights

“The goal is to work to live, and not to live to work,” public advocate Tish James said during an indoor rally today in support of Fast Food Justice, a new group that’s fighting for fast-food worker rights and livable wages in New York City. Dozens of restaurant employees left their jobs to show up at the rally, which city officials also attended. “This is about economic justice,” NYC’s comptroller Scott Stringer said during the rally. “This will be a model for organizations across the country.”

Fast-food workers — one of the nation’s largest groups of employees — are still legally and logistically unable to unionize, but a new New York City law went into effect late last year that finally allows them, at the very least, to organize. The law, a part of the city’s new Fair Workweek Rules, enables groups of 500 workers or more to collect pre-tax dues and use their size and resources to fight for protections, rights, and higher wages.

Fast Food Justice has assembled a list of more than 1,200 fast-food workers in the New York City region. At today’s rally, the group announced that it is the first nonprofit worker organization registered under the local law and, according to a release, was recognized by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) last week. Members of the group pledged to donate...

Carbonated, caffeinated, fruit-flavored millennial-pandering at its finest

Diet Coke, the fizzy brown elixir that powers Donald Trump’s daily escapades in the White House, has completely rebranded itself for the Instagram generation. The soda now has a new svelte little 12-ounce can, plus a few extra members of its soda squad: Ginger Lime, Twisted Mango, Feisty Cherry, and Zesty Blood Orange. LaCroix better watch its back, because a new gang of fruity no-calorie beverages just rolled into town and they’re ready to tussle.

Coca-Cola claims that it decided to rebrand “after speaking to more than 10,000 people,” and taking a few years to test out “different flavor combinations” until hitting upon these four new varieties of the soda. Diet Coke group rep Rafael Acevedo is not afraid to use the M-word when describing the company’s motives behind the switch-up. “Millennials are now thirstier than ever for adventures and new experiences, and we want to be right by their side,” Acevedo remarks. “We’re contemporizing the Diet Coke brand and portfolio with sleek packaging and new flavors that are appealing to new audiences.”

The fruity new Diet Cokes will hit store shelves across the country later this month — and the old cans of O.G. DC will still be available, too — but only time will tell if these plucky new pops will succeed in enticing the ever-inscrutable millennial consumer.

Diet Coke Relaunch [Official]
All Pop Culture Coverage [E]

Everywhere you’ll want to eat this year

Aaron Franklin is working on a new barbecue joint in partnership with one of the most popular restaurant groups in Austin. Dominique Crenn is cooking up a wine-fueled ode to French classics, as America’s renewed love affair with la cuisine Française continues apace.

2018 is shaping up to be a *great* restaurant year.

In these early days of the new year, some trends are emerging. Call it the Brock effect — or, you know, don’t — but several chefs are turning their attention to heirloom grains and vegetables, whether at Appalachian-cuisine evangelist Travis Milton’s Virginia meat-and-three or at the Japanese-meets-Italy project from Denver’s bona fide wheat nerd Kelly Whitaker. Legendary Arizona pizzaiolo Chris Bianco will plant his flag in Los Angeles, while Anthony Mangieri will make his grand return to New York City, promising a banner year for pizza. There’s more high-end Middle Eastern fare on the horizon in Los Angeles, which will also soon welcome several New York City imports, from a new Momofuku project to locations of Cosme and the Nomad.

Speaking of New York, like last season, the Big Apple is lagging when it comes to bold new openings. Certainly there are upcoming restaurants that will become easy favorites — like an all-day cafe from the Via Carota power duo Jody Williams and Rita Sodi — but, once again, New York is not where the dining...

Plus, Jack in the Box’s CEO wants to replace human employees with robots

The women are working on “strategic changes” following the sexual misconduct allegations

In the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations against chef Mario Batali, restaurant group Batali & Bastianich Hospitality (B&B) sent a letter to staff announcing several major changes, Eater NY reports. The letter, dated December 22 and signed by partners Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton, describes plans to rebrand the group with a new name and elevate the roles of Lidia Bastianich and Mozza chef Silverton.

“Though we cannot yet address specific initiatives, we are in the process of making strategic changes in an effort to improve the culture of our organization,” Silverton said in a statement to Eater, though she declined to discuss in further detail what that would entail. The LA-based chef started the Mozza Restaurant Group with Batali and Joe Bastianich in 2007. Lidia Bastianich, Joe Bastianich’s mother, has been a partner at many of B&B’s New York restaurants since the group’s formation.

In that staff letter, B&B remained similarly vague, aside from the fact that the women will take on “leadership roles in the company.” The letter reads: “We will be creating a new company whose structure and name will better reflect that our restaurants’ success is built on the contributions of many, not just one or two. This will include bringing on additional senior management experienced in ensuring everyone has a respectful workplace.”

Part of that job, it seems,...

From ultra-luxe prime rib in New York to classic flatbreads in London, here’s where to eat 

Michelin-starred standouts in Chicago. A hotspot with killer mole in Denver. A high-end brasserie setting the standard in Miami. A modern Korean steakhouse taking New York City by storm. And that’s just getting started.

Those are just a few of the newest additions to the Eater 38 across 25 different cities. The Eater 38 serves as the answer to the age-old question, “Where should we eat for dinner tonight?” Each city’s individual map works to incorporate a range of neighborhoods, cuisines, and price ranges, presenting a mini-snapshot of the state of dining in that particular city. Restaurants must be open at least six months to be eligible for the list (newer destinations are highlighted on the Eater Heatmaps). Use each map as an incentive to pick up whole hog barbecue in Charleston, superb focaccia in Los Angeles, affordable steaks just outside of Washington, D.C. and more.

Courtesy Ryan Dearth

‘Dining on a Dime’ samples chili dogs galore at Arbetter’s

As Dining on a Dime continues its Miami season, I’m excited to visit this next stop — a fun and casual, bright yellow hot dog stand in the city’s Westchester neighborhood called Arbetter’s.

Pulling up to the over 50-year-old restaurant is like being transported back into its opening days. Relatively nothing about the space has changed — except for a few fresh coats of yellow paint and two or three new awnings — and to hear owner Dave Arbetter tell it, little in how the restaurant does things has changed, either. For me, hot dogs are all about taste and sense memory — being transported back to a simpler, more carefree time when I used to have hot dogs at baseball games. Arbetter’s delivers that and more.

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Fox Business host Stuart Varney doesn’t want restaurant employees to make too much money

Fox Business host Stuart Varney believes that minimum wage hikes should perhaps result in customers tipping less at restaurants. Varney made this argument during a segment on his show, Varney & Co., Wednesday morning, notes Mediaite.

“If I walk into a restaurant and I know the waiter or waitress is making $15 an hour, way more than they used to make the previous year, I am going to say, ‘Wait a minute am I going to give you 20 percent, 15 percent or whatever?’” Varney said.

This is not the first time Varney has shared his thoughts on class issues in America. In 2011 he posited, “The image we have of poor people as starving and living in squalor really is not accurate. Many of them have things; what they lack is the richness of spirit.” Two years later, the broadcaster took issue with Pope Francis’s comments on income inequality.

Varney’s salary has not been made public, but he is under a “multi-year” contract with Fox Business. In 2013, TV Guide published a story showing how much money prominent cable news anchors can make. At the time, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, and CNN’s Chris Cuomo all reportedly earned between $2.5 million and $7 million annually.

Working 40 hours per week, an individual earning $15 per hour makes $28,800 a...

It was a good year for food TV

This post originally appeared on December 22, 2017, in “Eat, Drink, Watch” — the weekly newsletter for people who want to order takeout and watch TV . Browse the archives and subscribe now.

This is the perfect weekend to catch up on the best food-related TV shows of the year. Last week, I offered my list of the top food films of 2017, and here, now, are my picks for the best TV episodes on the major networks, streaming services, and social media channels. It was a good year for food TV, and I’m convinced that 2018 will be even better. Without any further ado…

5) Samurai Gourmet, “Mackerel in the Morning”

This Japanese-language show about the culinary adventures of a retired company man is always entertaining, but a handful of episodes, like this one, are surprisingly moving.

In “Mackerel in the Morning,” our main man Takeshi Kasumi misses his train home after a day trip to visit a buddy, and decides to spend the night at a seaside inn. Midway through the set breakfast in the inn’s humble dining room, Kasumi is reminded of a trip he took in his youth, during which he first started to embrace his love of food. We now see...

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s Brothers and Sisters is drawing in crowds

All the excuses you need to not go out

The world of dining and drinking is an obstacle course wrapped in a labyrinth wrapped in a logic puzzle — it's full of pitfalls, gray areas, and bewildering questions that really shouldn't even be questions (How do I find the bathroom?) and yet, somehow, are. Fortunately, your friends at Eater are here to help: Life Coach is a series of simple guides to the arcane rituals of modern dining. Have a question or a quandary you'd like us to tackle? Drop Life Coach a line.

This piece was originally published December 29, 2016. It has been updated to reflect that 2017, much like the previous year, was also an unrelenting shitshow.

It’s December 29, 2017, and you still don’t know what you’re going to do on New Year’s Eve. That’s a problem. If you’re planning on spending this holiday in public, you really only have a few choices. You could go to a restaurant, where prix fixe menus are equal parts boring and stingy — the tiniest slivers of seared filet and foie gras, inexplicable ahi tuna nachos — that can cost more than $200 per person before you even think about wine, tax, or leaving a tip. Or you could get a table and bottle service at a nightclub, complete with all the glitz and glamour of eating stale crostini and dropping $100 on a bottle...

Feast your eyes on these 15 incredible designs

As 2017 comes to its end, Eater takes a look back at the best restaurant designs of the year. Great restaurant design is transportive and transformative — and this year’s designs delivered.

Last year’s Eater Award winner for design of the year was Gwen in Los Angeles, and many restaurants this year seemed to adopt its principals: dramatic, Deco references and over-the-top glitz all combining for a sense of unabashed, unrestrained luxury. In 2017, openings like BLVD in Chicago (perhaps the most like Gwen with its bunker-like setting) and Born & Raised in San Diego kept this trend alive.

And for all that flash, plenty of restaurant designers were inspired by the idea of “home” this year — especially at Eater’s Most Beautiful Restaurant of the Year Eight Tables, which modeled itself after an (imaginary) midcentury apartment in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Other trends that dominated the best 2017 restaurant designs: Great wallpaper, like the softly hued patterns at Grey Gardens in Toronto or the vibrant cacti at Hello Sailor in North Carolina; plants, so many of them, as in the frond-filled dining room at Hai Hai in Minneapolis or the tree growing through the Pujol dining room. And while there was plenty of luxury to be found, some of the year’s most striking designs were the most paired down, like the ultra-minimal De Maria in New York City...

Plus, Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes are the sugary cereal mashup of the year

  • Burger King settled a class-action suit alleging that its two-for-one Croissan’wich deal actually inflated prices. A woman in Maryland noticed that purchasing a Croissan’wich with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon cost more than buying a breakfast sandwich without a coupon. Burger King will now pay $5, or provide $2 gift cards, to anyone who overpaid for two or more Croissan’wiches between October 1, 2015 and May 19, 2017.
  • In case cereal isn’t sugary enough for you already, Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes have arrived. General Mills released a box that subs out the oat pieces in Lucky Charms for frosted flakes (not Frosted Flakes®, which are made by Kellogg’s).
  • McDonald’s says it can’t vouch for the quality of 40 percent of its restaurants in India. This warning comes months after McDonald’s attempted to terminate its franchise agreement with local partner Connaught Plaza Restaurants. According to McDonald’s, there are “serious compliance risks to McDonald’s standards for food quality and safety” at 169 locations in northern and eastern India.
  • Here’s a rundown of where each member of the British royal family (plus future-royal Meghan Markle) likes to eat and drink around London.
  • Chef Massimo Bottura may be opening up one of his charitable community kitchens, called Refettorios, in Paris.
  • This New Year’s Eve, consider the sound of the bubbles when judging champagne quality. Apparently,...

A new theme song for anyone who’s ever craved nuggets on a Sunday

For anyone who’s ever pulled up in a Chick-fil-A drive-thru with visions of waffle fries dancing in their head, only to come to the tragic realization that it’s Sunday — a South Carolina guy who knows that pain all too well just penned a new anthem for all chicken sandwich diehards, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Comedian Shama Mrema posted a music video for his track “Chick-fil-A (But It’s Sunday)” on Facebook on Christmas Eve and, unsurprisingly, the heartfelt slow jam resonated with people. The video features a sincere Mrema creeping around outside a closed Chick-fil-A, crooning lyrics like, “Chick-fil-A sauce so good like it was made by G-O-D” as he falls to his knees and tugs on the restaurant’s door handle.

The video has now been shared more than 7,000 times, inspiring comments from fans like, “This is the song of my people.”

Chick-fil-A has yet to comment on the video on its social media channels, but hopefully they’ll at least send Mrema some coupons for free nuggets — even if he’ll only have Monday through Saturday to redeem them.

Shama Mrema [Facebook]
SC Man’s Serenade to Chick-fil-A Goes Viral [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
A Waffle House Parking Lot Is the Perfect Place to Film a Music Video [E]

Climate change, drought, and development have devastated Cambodia's Tonle Sap Lake, which feeds millions across Southeast Asia

Talk to a fisherman anywhere in the world and it won’t be long before you’ll hear the tales: the first catch, the one that got away, the really big one. On Tonle Sap Lake, the largest body of freshwater in Southeast Asia, the fish stories are divided into then and now.

The old stories go like this: In 1992, Yem Yun caught a 220-pound Mekong giant Catfish. How big was it? So big, his boat nearly collapsed. So big, no one dared to buy it, so Yun cut it up and dried it out and the entire village feasted for a week. Or: When Sok Chetra was young, the fish in the lake were so plentiful they jumped into her boat. Or, even just: Ly Yoeu used to be able to support his family from fishing alone.

The new stories are like this one, shouted from the water by a passing fisherman: “I’m concerned that if there are no fish, I will not eat.”

For half of the year, Tonle Sap Lake is an elongated figure eight in the heart of Cambodia. At the peak of the six-month dry season, the lake covers about a thousand square miles, its edges demarcated by forests, grasslands, paddy fields, and red roads. During the wet season, roughly May to November, all of...

Jamaican food, pot edibles, and soft serve saw big rises in Google searches this year

Some could say 2017 was a year of politics, confusion, shock, and uncertainty. But a poke at Google Trends data shows that in the food world at least, there were many opportunities to escape the commotion that was the rest of living in 2017. That is: If Americans were looking for a release, they found it in food. A look at this year’s top food trends shows the country’s hunger for the diverse, the magical, the nostalgic, and the euphoric. Here are 2017’s top food trends, according to the Internet:

Jamaican cuisine

Jamaican-inspired menus have been growing in popularity over the last few years, but 2017 was the cuisine’s breakout year. As Eater reported, this might be due to the growing number of chefs who, in an effort to make the island’s food more familiar and accessible to Americans, have been fusing Jamaican flavors with other international cuisines like Latin and Korean. Google Trends data shows search interest for “Jamaican food” and “Caribbean food near me” were high in 2016, but even more so throughout 2017.

trends.embed.renderExploreWidget("TIMESERIES", {"comparisonItem":[{"keyword":"jamaican food","geo":"US","time":"today 5-y"}],"category":71,"property":""}, {"exploreQuery":"cat=71&date=today 5-y&geo=US&q=jamaican%20food","guestPath":""}); Soft serve

Earlier in the year, Eater predicted the summer of 2017 would be the summer of edible raw cookie dough, but Google search interest data proved that despite the slew of raw dough parlor...

Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar will close December 31

The NYC branch of Flavortown is saying goodbye, cruel world. Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square will serve its last squirt of Donkey Sauce on December 31, Eater NY reports.

News of the closure comes as a surprise: Though the restaurant, which opened in 2012, was thoroughly skewered by New York Times critic Pete Wells in a now-legendary restaurant review, it was also one of the nation’s highest-grossing independent restaurants, racking up $17 million in sales in 2016.

Despite serving some objectively terrible food at his restaurants, the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host has morphed into somewhat of a folk hero in recent years — and as such, Twitter users have gathered to mourn the loss of what may be the most Times Square-iest of all the Times Square tourist trap dining destinations.

Kicking things off is Wells himself, who laments the fact that the many questions he posed to Fieri in his 2012 takedown (such as, “Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are?”) will likely never be answered:

I guess it’s time to give up on getting those questions answered.— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) December 28, 2017 I’ll swear on anything that I really liked this restaurant. Went as a joke, came out covered in ribs and...

‘Open Road’ visits Saraga International to sample pork and chicken dumplings

Dumplings are universal comfort foods, and in 2016 a small stall in one of Columbus’s international groceries became a phenomenon with its specialties — the Tibetan and Nepali staples called momos. Saraga International Grocery, on Columbus’s northeastern side, sells produce, meats, dairy, and packaged goods for cooking cuisines from around the world. The market also supports a few small food counters, including Momo Ghar run by chef-owner Phuntso Lama.

Lama makes both steamed and fried variations of momos; her most popular version is jhol momo, ground chicken with cilantro among its seasonings in a wrapper shaped into pleated rounds and steamed. Lama stuffs other momos with pork, or mild potato curry, or cabbage and other vegetables, either steamed or shaped into crescents and fried. The menu veers into other territories — a ramen-style soup known as thukpa, a pancake made with lentil flour — but the momos are the clear draw.

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